Created by Matt Groening
Starring the voices of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith
- Four episodes: “Dog of Death,” “Marge Be Not Proud,” “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson,” and “Mayored to the Mob”
- Animatics and storyboards on the first act of “Mayored”
Released by: Fox Home Entertainment
Anamorphic: N/A; released in its original 1.33:1 format
My Advice: Grab it if you’re a Simpsons fan.
The Simpsons are back with four classic episodes. In “Dog of Death,” Santa’s Little Helper needs an expensive operation. The family resents having to sacrifice other things to pay for it, and he runs away, only to become an attack dog of Mr. Burns’. Bart gets caught shoplifting in “Marge Be Not Proud,” and has to find a way to earn his mother’s respect again at Christmas. “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson” finds Bart sent off to military school after a typical Bart incident, and Lisa decides she wants to go, too, only to find herself the butt of the other cadets’ hazing because she is a girl.
The episodes are all good, and even the scene selection menus are amusingâ€”Fox never skimps on the little details that go into making a good Simpsons set. These four episodes also include voice talent from Willem Defoe (the military school commander in “Secret War”), Phil Hartman (as the inevitable Troy McClure in “Marge”), Joe Montegna (as Fat Tony in “Mayored”), Lawrence Tierney (Det. Don Brodka in “Marge”), and of course Mark Hamill as himself.
The feature on the disc is the ability to watch Act I of the “Mayored” episode in storyboard, animatic, or finished episode form, and you can toggle back and forth between using your remote. It’s neat to see the sequence from storyboard to finished product, and it’s admirable that Fox saw fit to include a feature on a seemingly throwaway tie-in quickie DVD like thisâ€”I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, other regions get stuff like a montage of Star Wars-related bits from over the yours. Not that I’m saying that’s anything to crow about necessarily, but if they could get it, why not here too?
Overall, this set is pretty fabulous if you take it for what it is. The episodes themselves are worthy and the feature we do have is good. But on the other hand, it’s only got three episodes that aren’t already on DVD and it’s no substitute for the full season sets.
If you need a little Simpsons pick-me-up and can’t wait for the full seasons, rent or buy it as your fix requires. But if you’re not hardcore, wait for the full seasons.